Europeans avoiding economic slump find safe-haven in Chile

The Andean nation has recorded unprecedented amounts of European immigrants who are seeking to fill job vacancies in Chile’s ever-growing economy.

In the face of an international economic slump, Chile’s resilience and expanding job market continues to draw immigrants from all over the globe.

Laura Tapias of Spain is as good as an example as any. After months of futile search in her country, Tapias moved to Chile along with her boyfriend who had found a job in Santiago.

«I dropped off my resume and the next day they said ‘yes’ at the interview,” Tapias told Reuters after securing a position as a hydrogeologist with an environmental consultation office. “It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it.»

Tapias’ case is by no means an outlier, and for the past two decades Chile has attracted Peruvians, Bolivians, Argentineans, Colombians, and now Europeans with increasing frequency. In fact, the amount of Chilean work visas for European citizens has increased by 39 percent from earlier measures.

For a country a fraction of the size of countries like Brazil and Mexico, it receives comparable amounts of legal immigrants, according to a report published by the Organization of American States.

During the past decade the amount of work visas awarded by the Chilean government rose 25 percent. While this growth is encouraging, the Chilean government has plans underway to update immigration laws in order to streamline the immigration process.

«Chile realizes that without the help of immigrants it’ll be very difficult to fill the number of jobs required for certain investments and to ultimately boost the economy,» the head of Chile’s Immigration Office, Mario Cassanello, told Reuters.

Chile has experienced four consecutive years of incremental economic growth, currently projected at 5.25 percent for 2013. This increased growth corresponds with various factors, including a thriving mining industry.

The mining association Sonami published projections that the industry would create 100,000 jobs directly and 300,000 more indirectly within the next ten to 12 years.